When Mission Partners For Christ travels abroad for one of our short-term medical missions trips, we love to create clinics to educate others on how to manage their health best. We believe that education is power, and the more people understand how to prevent serious health conditions or manage the conditions they have, the better quality of life they will have overall.

Most of us had a crash course in health education over the last couple of years due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. We learned, en masse, what the disease was, how to prevent it, and what to do if one catches it. However, health education is more than this. It is a broad topic that covers many issues, from food safety and nutrition to exercise, mental health, and more. 

Keep reading to find out why health education is such an essential part of medical missions trips!

Health Education Prevents Serious Illness And Injury

Most of us know, by this point, how handwashing is a crucial practice in preventing serious illness. But this knowledge hasn’t always been so commonly held. In fact, the practice of handwashing is less than 200 years, and it cost many people their lives before the connection between illness and unwashed hands was discovered. 

It wasn’t until the 1840s when a Hungarian obstetrician named Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that when medical professionals washed their hands, mortality rates in maternity wards started to go down. Although it took a while for handwashing to catch on as a standard practice in the medical field, Semmelweis is commonly credited as the father of handwashing.

Education about the practice of handwashing saved lives. 

Today, we also know the role that diet and exercise play in maintaining health and preventing illness. The CDC and the WHO websites expand on these issues:

* Inactivity contributes to 1 in 10 premature deaths.

*Inadequate levels of physical activity are associated with $117 billion in annual health care costs.

*If US adults increased their average physical activity participation just 10 minutes per day, over 110,000 lives per year could be saved.”

Center For Disease Control

Nutrition is a critical part of health and development. Better nutrition is related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease), and longevity.

World Health Organization

Health Education Helps People Better Connect With Their Bodies

To properly care for something, you have to understand it. This is the case for raising children, caring for plants or beloved pets, and treating patients. This is also true for how we take care of our bodies. The education we receive about how to care for our bodies allows us to build a strong connection with our bodies by understanding what the feelings and sensations that arise in our bodies can be communicating to us. 

We learn as children that when our tummies begin to rumble, it is time to feed them. Similarly, when a person with diabetes understands that when they start to feel shaky or lightheaded, that’s a sign that their blood sugar levels might be dropping and their bodies need to be cared for in a specific way.

Health Education Gives People Agency To Live Their Best Lives

When we better understand how to manage our health, we are given the freedom to create the lives that gift us health and happiness. The person who learns that her sedentary lifestyle and diet choices directly impact her high blood pressure is now empowered to make different choices to better care for her body. 

The changes she makes to care for her body will enable her to live a more fulfilling life. As her health improves, so does her ability to travel, work, and volunteer as she feels led. This woman will be free to serve on her first medical missions trip because she has made her own health a priority first.

Health Education Is A Form of Stewardship

One concept that shows up repeatedly throughout Scripture is the mandate to be good stewards of all that God has blessed us with:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 1:28, NIV

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

Luke 16:10-12, NIV

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, NIV

We should also apply the same principle to the bodies that God Himself created for us (Psalm 139:13). Our bodies are not just things we live in. They are part of God’s creation and, as such, deserve the same love and care that we give to others.

Stewardship is an act of worship; it is respecting God’s creation and blessings through proper care-taking. It communicates to our God that we appreciate everything that He has gifted to us and entrusted to our care. In the same vein, ensuring that our bodies get the proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep they need to be healthy is one way that we can worship God through our actions.

Want to be part of the mission to make healthcare and healthcare education accessible to underserved populations? Come join us on a medical missions trip! Check out our upcoming opportunities here!

Health Education Is an Essential Part of Medical Missons

Did you discover something new about why health education matters? Leave us a comment and let us know what you learned!